Questions, questions, always questions ...
In our continuing effort to respond to reader mail, I'm going to answer more of the most popular questions that end up in my e-mail box.
Question: How do I get into blogging?
Answer: Like a number of Hawaii people who depend on the Web for business and personal communications, Rosa Say, who runs Say Leadership Coaching out of her home on the Big Island, has a blog. It's her own personal Web site where she does everything from sell her book, "Managing with Aloha," to posting a running commentary for an online workshop she's conducting. (For those who don't know, a blog, short for Web log, is simply a Web site filled with text entries, photos, links to other sites on the Web, or anything else the writer wishes to share.)
Rosa happens to use blog software from a company called Six Apart, which is a pay-for service that costs around $9 a month. It's easy to use and includes a free monthlong trial. There also are a number of free services available from other firms. Google has one called Blogger (www.blogger.com), Microsoft has MSN Spaces (spaces.msn.com) and Yahoo has one in beta called Yahoo! 360. People I've spoken to like the MSN service but the truth is that you can be up and running in no time with any of these. Why pay for Six Apart when the others are free? Like anything else, you get what you pay for; Six Apart provides a very sophisticated offering that Rosa, the Big Island business coach, feels is worthwhile.
Q: How do I keep my children away from online porn?
A: This has always been an issue with the Web. There's a lot of stuff out there -- not just pornography -- that is not appropriate for kids (or anyone else, for that matter.) Web blocking software is being improved. Some of the better products include ContentProtect; Cybersitter 9.0, Net Nanny and CyberPatrol. Check out consumersearch.com for a very good article that collected a number of software reviews from computer trade publications. Parental control software products generally cost about $40.
On the hardware side, some routers and firewalls also offer key word blocking so that any site with any word of your choice can be blocked. Another option, if you have a major online service, is get your parental control service directly from your provider. America Online has one the best products I've seen. With it, you can create separate log-ins for adults, children and teens, with specific parameters for each age group.
You can even set it to get reports on where your child has been Web surfing. I'd also suggest getting anti-pop-up software because pop-up ads so often are pornographic in nature. You can also block spam, which is often X-rated.
Our company, for example, provides a free anti-spam product called E-Z Armor which blocks e-mail from anyone outside of your own list. The truth is that a really determined, Net-savvy youngster will find what he or she wants, but you can at least protect kids from seeing inappropriate content by accident.
general manager of digital phone at Oceanic Time Warner Cable, has been a telecommunications and computer expert for 25 years. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org